DPS 2001 meeting, November 2001
Session 4. Worlds Inside 1 AU
Oral, Chairs: M. Drake, A. Hendrix, Tuesday, November 27, 2001, 11:10am-12:30pm, Regency GH

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[4.04] Role of desorption processes in the formation of K in tenuous planetary atmospheres

T. E. Madey, B. V. Yakshinskiy (Rutgers University)

We will discuss recent laboratory data indicating that DIET processes (desorption induced by electronic transitions) may affect planetary atmospheres. We focus on the origins of neutral potassium vapor in the atmospheres of the planet Mercury, the Moon, and the icy satellites of Jupiter. We are conducting ultrahigh-vacuum studies of adsorption and desorption of atomic potassium on model mineral systems (SiO2 thin films), as well as on models of icy satellite surfaces (condensed water ice films). We found evidence previously that non-thermal processes - mainly photon-stimulated desorption (PSD) by UV photons - may play a dominant role in desorption of Na atoms from the lunar surface[1], and the present results indicate that K can be desorbed by PSD. The desorption mechanism involves a photon-excited charge-exchange process, in which adsorbed ionic K is converted to neutral K, which desorbs. Recent data on desorption from a lunar sample will be discussed.

[1] B. V. Yakshinskiy and T. E. Madey, Nature 400(1999) 642; Surface Science 451 (2000) 160.

This work has been supported in part by NASA

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The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: madey@physics.rutgers.edu

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